I recently came across the following word:
It’s not in any dictionary I could find. I translated it as “tennis racket” as the client was nowhere to be reached. Later I found out it means “online auction”. The result was a lot of laughs.
Someone I know recently translated 華府 as “the Chinese government”. Again, not in the dictionary. Seems reasonable, after all, 華 means “China”. But in fact it means “Washington” (i.e. the US government). The result can be a lot more serious in such a case.
Abbreviations such as these can be particularly troublesome in translations.
Are there any other embarrassing Chinese-English mistranslations you’ve committed that you’d like to share?